With the Centre moving Supreme Court to seek review of its judgment on Delhi government’s bureaucracy control issue, Ministry of Home Affairs (MHA) officials cited global instances of similar governance model in Australia, France and Germany to justify Centre’s control over Delhi.

The capital city is under the control of the Union government as seen globally to ensure co-ordination, national representation, and alignment with national priorities., said MHA sources in defence of the ordinance.

On Friday, the Centre brought the Government of National Capital Territory of Delhi (Amendment) Ordinance, 2023 to form the National Capital Civil Services Authority (NCCSA) which triggered political slugfest between BJP and AAP. This authority has been empowered to give recommendations to the Lieutenant Governor (LG) over service matters such as transfer posting, vigilance and other incidental matters — which AAP believes weighs heavily towards the latter’s office and undermines Supreme Court judgment.

Delhi is a union territory with a unique status, and the Centre represents the interests of the entire nation as well as that of foreign embassies and international organisations, explained MHA sources. Having control over the administration allows the Centre to ensure that national interests are prioritised over local considerations, MHA sources commented.

Australia’s capital city, Canberra, is located in the Australian Capital Territory (ACT) and is under the control of the federal government, said Ministry sources. The ACT has its own government, but the central government maintains significant control over key areas such as governance, planning, and major infrastructure projects, they pointed out. Same is the case with Berlin, MHA sources pointed out.

Dual authority rule

According to the officials, Article 239 AA of the Constitution was inserted to accommodate the judicious participation of the Union government in the administrative matters of Delhi. It provided for an assembly and council of ministers with designated powers to fulfil democratic aspirations of Delhi residents. The Constitution gave overriding powers to parliament to make laws on any matter, the ministry officials stated. Services, police, law and order and land were kept outside the purview of the Delhi government and these were to be handled through LG , said ministry officials on dual authority rule in the national capital.

The ordinance, stated MHA sources, clearly defined roles of authorities to avoid friction and overlap of jurisdiction between the Centre and Union Territory.  The Delhi CM as NCCSA chairperson will have access to all service matters of officials posted under his government, said ministry sources.

For the first time an elected representative has been made part of a decision making on service issues, which is in difference to the spirit of Supreme Court verdict, elaborated sources. Besides, an attempt has been made to bring transparency and strike a balance between the elected representatives of Delhi and LG, who represents elected government at the Centre, they stressed.